Greek Farmers Will Roll Out Another Tractor Protest

FILE - Farmers shut down the Athens-Thessaloniki highway in both directions at the Nikea roundabout, Larissa area, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Thanasis Kaliaras)

The tactic hasn’t worked yet but Greek farmers will again put tractors on Greek roads to protest, this time over cotton prices they said are too for them to cover production costs, and as a number of similar demonstrations, including blocking national roads have repeatedly failed.

Farmers in Larissa, central Greece, are planning to put their tractors at the Platykambos junction of the Athens-Thessaloniki national road on Sept. 23, said Kathimerini, as they are also demanding   meeting with Agriculture and Food Minister Makis Voridis to discuss their grievances and tell him what they want.

In a statement the Larissa-based federation of farmers’ unions said that prices are 20 percent lower than last year but didn’t say what they want the government to do about it as it has no control over supply-and-demand and other factors.

What the farmers want is a price “which reflects the excellent quality of the cotton, covers their production costs and leaves a sustainable income to cover their needs,” the statement said without explaining how that could happen.

In January, 2018 farmers blocked major northern roads demanding from the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, which was ousted this year in July 7 snap elections, lower production costs, tax-free oil, better rates for electricity and water, the abolition of value-added tax on agricultural supplies and vehicles, and exemption from the hated ENFIA property tax surcharge but didn’t get it.

The blockades have become almost an annual event sideshow ignored by the government even though they sometimes last for weeks and disrupt traffic and the flow of goods out of the country.

Farmers did the same early in 2017 but those failed too as they were seeking changes to measures including tax and social security hikes they couldn’t stop.

The farmers used their tractors and equipment, primarily in northern Greece and along the borders with Bulgaria and the now newly-named North Macedonia, preventing the movement of cargo to those countries and cutting into Greek exports.

In 2016 in February,

Two years ago in February more than a dozen tractors rolled through Athens, honking horns and flashing lights outside Parliament as thousands of Greek farmers thronged the capital’s main Syntagma Square to protest tax hikes and pension reforms as well.